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Publication numberUS7119969 B1
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 10/855,014
Publication dateOct 10, 2006
Filing dateMay 27, 2004
Priority dateMay 27, 2004
Fee statusPaid
Publication number10855014, 855014, US 7119969 B1, US 7119969B1, US-B1-7119969, US7119969 B1, US7119969B1
InventorsMax Amon, Richard LeBlanc, George A. Bradley
Original AssigneeLockheed Martin Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Pixel matched camera optics
US 7119969 B1
Abstract
An optical system and method comprising acquiring radiation in a plurality of spectral bands, each acquired by a discrete collector, receiving the acquired radiation in one or more of the spectral bands with one or more afocal zoom optics, each receiving radiation from a different collector, and aligning each point of fields of view of the collectors to a fraction of a pixel.
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Claims(20)
1. An optical system comprising:
a plurality radiation collectors, each operating in a different spectral band;
one or more afocal zoom optics, each receiving radiation from one of said collectors; and
means for combining the radiation from said plurality of collectors after passing through said zoom optics; and
wherein each point of fields of view of the collectors align to a fraction of a pixel.
2. The optical system of claim 1 wherein exactly one of said collectors does not have a corresponding afocal zoom optic.
3. The optical system of claim 1 wherein said plurality of collectors comprises a collector of midwave infrared and a collector of longwave infrared.
4. The optical system of claim 1 wherein said plurality of collectors each has a substantially identical field of view.
5. The optical system of claim 4 wherein said plurality of collectors each has substantially zero distortion.
6. The optical system of claim 1 wherein said means for combining comprises a beamsplitter.
7. The optical system of claim 6 wherein said beamsplitter is a dichroic beamsplitter.
8. The optical system of claim 7 additionally comprising an afocal system for receiving the radiation passed through said dichroic beamsplitter.
9. The optical system of claim 8 wherein said afocal system is a reflective afocal system.
10. An optical method comprising the steps of:
acquiring radiation in a plurality of spectral bands, each acquired by a discrete collector;
receiving the acquired radiation in one or more of the spectral bands with one or more afocal zoom optics, each receiving radiation from a different collector;
combining the radiation from the plurality of collectors after passing through the zoom optics; and
aligning each point of fields of view of the collectors to a fraction of a pixel.
11. The optical method of claim 10 wherein exactly one of the collectors does not have a corresponding afocal zoom optic.
12. The optical method of claim 10 wherein the plurality of collectors comprises a means for acquiring midwave infrared and a means for acquiring longwave infrared.
13. The optical method of claim 10 wherein the plurality of collectors each has a substantially identical field of view.
14. The optical method of claim 13 wherein the plurality of collectors each has substantially zero distortion.
15. The optical method of claim 10 wherein the combining step comprises employing a beamsplitter.
16. The optical method of claim 15 wherein the beamsplitter is a dichroic beamsplitter.
17. The optical method of claim 16 additionally comprising employing an afocal system for receiving the radiation passed through the dichroic beamsplitter.
18. The optical method of claim 17 wherein the said afocal system is a reflective afocal system.
19. An optical system comprising:
a plurality radiation collectors, each operating in a different spectral band; and
one or more afocal zoom optics, each receiving radiation from one of said collectors; and
wherein each point of fields of view of the collectors align to a fraction of a pixel and exactly one of said collectors does not have a corresponding afocal zoom optic.
20. An optical method comprising the steps of:
acquiring radiation in a plurality of spectral bands, each acquired by a discrete collector;
receiving the acquired radiation in one or more of the spectral bands with one or more afocal zoom optics, each receiving radiation from a different collector; and
aligning each point of fields of view of the collectors to a fraction of a pixel; and
wherein exactly one of the collectors does not have a corresponding afocal zoom optic.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE OF MATERIAL SUBMITTED ON A COMPACT DISC

Not Applicable.

COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention (Technical Field)

The present invention relates to methods and apparatuses for common alignment of pixels from two or more different optical systems.

2. Description of Related Art

The spectral characteristics and signatures of natural and/or manmade objects vary. These differences may be employed in sensory instruments, where the discrimination of targets from background clutter is enhanced by the difference in spectral characteristics. In order to develop the algorithms needed to exploit these differences, a means is needed to create imagery in two or more spectral bands where each point of the field of view of two or more separate cameras align to a fraction of a pixel. Many systems have been design to generate imagery in two or more spectral bands, but none have successfully matched two separate optical systems to such accuracy. The field of view, focal length and distortion must be custom matched to meet this extremely difficult specification. Diffraction limited performance is also required from each camera optic.

Accordingly, critical alignment of each pixel of two optical systems operating in two or more spectral bands presents a difficult design challenge. Even extremely tight fabrication tolerances cause sufficient variation in the pixel alignment to defeat the purpose of simultaneous two color data collection and two-color algorithm development.

The present invention overcomes this difficulty by incorporating an afocal zoom optic located in front of one of the optical systems. The midwave and longwave optics preferably have substantially identical fields of view and substantially zero distortion so that each point in object space matches at the corresponding image point in the focal plane. Fabrication tolerances upset this delicate balance but adjusting the afocal zoom lens can readily make compensation for these variations.

Prior practices include the following. One approach is to use a single optic that is color corrected over the whole spectral band and a single detector sensitive to both spectral ranges. This approach, however, limits the types of detectors that can be used and the spectral ranges that can be imaged simultaneously.

A rotating filter wheel might be employed that alternates the image spectrum thereby achieving the pixel registration. However, the time delay between frames can lead to erroneous results if there is motion in the FOV. This approach requires a single focal plane array that therefore limits the spectral range that may be used to the sensitivity range of the detector.

Two separate lens systems have been used side by side to accomplish the same task as the invention. However, when the optics are arranged side by side the system suffers from parallax. Even when the apertures are combined with a dichroic the system is not pixel aligned because of dissimilar distortion characteristics between the two optical systems. Even when zoom optics are employed there are significant differences so that pixel match is not achieved.

Still another technique has been to employ four micro lenses directly in front of the detector array. Each lens is designed for a specific wavelength and has a spectral filter installed or deposited on the lens. The lenses are located in the cooler dewar and must be cooled along with the focal plane array. Each lens uses ¼ of the array. Since the lenses are so close together the parallax is insignificant, but the tolerances on the alignment and components are prohibitive. Since a single array is used, there are limits on the wavebands that can be covered simultaneously.

Also of note are U.S. Pat. No. 5,729,376, entitled “Catadioptric Multi-Functional Optical Assemby”, to Hall et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,477,395, entitled “Two Nested All-Reflective Afocal Telescopes Providing Four Fields of View”, to Cook; U.S. Pat. No. 5,078,502, entitled “Compact Afocal Reimaging and Image Derotation Device”, to Cook; U.S. Pat. No. 4,804,258, entitled “Four Mirror Afocal Wide Field of View Optical System”, to Kebo; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,691,999, entitled “Afocal Beam Expansion Apparatus and Method”, to Wheeler.

The present invention is simple and components may be fabricated to readily achievable tolerances. The data may be taken in all spectral bands simultaneously.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is of an optical system and method comprising: acquiring radiation in a plurality of spectral bands, each acquired by a discrete collector; receiving the acquired radiation in one or more of the spectral bands with one or more afocal zoom optics, each receiving radiation from a different collector; and aligning each point of fields of view of the collectors to a fraction of a pixel. In the preferred embodiment, exactly one of the collectors does not have a corresponding afocal zoom optic, the plurality of collectors comprises a means for acquiring midwave infrared and a means for acquiring longwave infrared, the plurality of collectors each has a substantially identical field of view, and the plurality of collectors each has substantially zero distortion. The radiation is preferably combined after passing through the zoom optics, more preferably via beamsplitter, and most preferably via dichroic beamsplitter. An afocal (preferably reflective) then receives the radiation passed through the dichroic beamsplitter.

Objects, advantages and novel features, and further scope of applicability of the present invention will be set forth in part in the detailed description to follow, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawing, and in part will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the following, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and attained by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawing, which is incorporated into and forms a part of the specification, illustrates one or more embodiments of the present invention and, together with the description, serves to explain the principles of the invention. The drawing is only for the purpose of illustrating one or more preferred embodiments of the invention and is not to be construed as limiting the invention. In the drawing:

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of an illustrative embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is of an optical system 10 and method that permits pixel matching in two or more spectral bands by incorporating an afocal zoom optic 12 located in front of one or more of the optical subsystems (more generally, radiation collectors) 14, 16 for such bands. Referring to FIG. 1, which illustrates the invention with two spectral bands, the midwave and longwave optics 14, 16 of that embodiment preferably have substantially identical fields of view and substantially zero distortion so that each point in object space matches at the corresponding image point in the focal plane. Fabrication tolerances upset this delicate balance but adjusting the afocal zoom lens 12 can readily make compensation for these variations.

The current state of the art of infrared equipment typically operates either in the midwave infrared (IR) (3 to 5 micron spectral range) or in the longwave IR (8 to 12 micron spectral range). Each spectral range has distinct advantages. The midwave system operates better on foggy days while the longwave system can see better through obscurants such as smoke and smog. The issue of countermeasures is also a factor where if one spectral band is attacked the operator may switch to the other. However, simultaneous dual band operation can highlight targets for an operator or automatic target recognizer by providing enhanced target signatures or two color highlights. This enhanced operation better discriminates targets from background clutter.

Table 1 summarizes the optical characteristics of the midwave and longwave systems of the exemplary embodiment.

TABLE 1
Midwave system Longwave system
Spectral Range 3.5 to 4.8 microns 8 to 12 microns
Array Size 256 × 256 320 × 240
Pixel Size 30 × 30 microns 46.25 × 46.25
60 × 60 effective
Format Size 7.68 × 7.68 mm 14.8 × 11 mm
Common FOV 2.26 × 2.26 deg 2.26 × 2.26 deg
Independent FOV 2.26 × 2.26 deg 5.65 × 4.24 deg
EFL 7.65″ 6.00″ +/− 200%
f/number 2.6 1.5
Aperture Size 3.0″ 4.0″

FIG. 1 shows a layout of the critically aligned optical system of the invention. The afocal zoom comprises four lens elements 20,21,22,23 and is incorporated as part of the long wave lens system. The afocal zoom permits the adjustment of two air spaces so that the afocal magnification can be changed (thereby changing the focal length of the long wave system) and simultaneously maintaining system focus. Both midwave and long wave optics were designed to be free of distortion. The apertures are combined at the dichroic beamsplitter 26 (or other means for combining the received radiation) eliminating any paralax between systems. A reflective 3× afocal 28 is preferably also employed so that the system has both a narrow and wide Field-of-View (FOV). The afocal is preferably all reflective so that it does not introduce any chromatic effects, and any other abberations introduced by the afocal yield the same effect in both the mid and longwave paths.

Although the invention has been described in detail with particular reference to these preferred embodiments, other embodiments can achieve the same results. Variations and modifications of the present invention will be obvious to those skilled in the art and it is intended to cover in the appended claims all such modifications and equivalents. The entire disclosures of all references, applications, patents, and publications cited above are hereby incorporated by reference.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4659171 *May 7, 1985Apr 21, 1987Barr & Stroud LimitedInfrared afocal refractor telescope
US4691999Apr 4, 1986Sep 8, 1987Hughes Aircraft CompanyAfocal beam expansion apparatus and method
US4804258May 5, 1986Feb 14, 1989Hughes Aircraft CompanyFour mirror afocal wide field of view optical system
US5078502Aug 6, 1990Jan 7, 1992Hughes Aircraft CompanyCompact afocal reimaging and image derotation device
US5159489 *Aug 2, 1991Oct 27, 1992The United States Of America As Represented By The United States Department Of EnergyHigh resolution telescope
US5161051 *Dec 13, 1990Nov 3, 1992Hughes Aircraft CompanySimultaneous dual field of view sensor
US5477395Nov 14, 1994Dec 19, 1995Hughes Aircraft CompanyTwo nested all-reflective afocal telescopes providing four fields of view
US5729376Jul 1, 1996Mar 17, 1998The United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The ArmyCatadioptric multi-functional optical assembly
US5936771 *Jul 31, 1997Aug 10, 1999Raytheon CompanyCompact flir optical configuration
US6178047 *Jun 1, 1999Jan 23, 2001Raytheon CompanyTwo-path all-reflective de-rotation optical system
US6870690 *Sep 9, 2003Mar 22, 2005Cbc-AmericaDual-band lens
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7573654Nov 27, 2007Aug 11, 2009Eastman Kodak CompanyDual focal length lens system
US7764440Nov 27, 2007Jul 27, 2010Eastman Kodak CompanyDual focal length lens system
US20120038812 *Aug 11, 2010Feb 16, 2012Media Lario S.R.LThree-mirror anastigmat with at least one non-rotationally symmetric mirror
CN101874218BNov 10, 2008Sep 26, 2012伊斯曼柯达公司Dual focal length lens system
EP1973340A1 *Mar 14, 2008Sep 24, 2008Astrium SasImaging device with several detectors
WO2009070203A1Nov 10, 2008Jun 4, 2009Eastman Kodak CoDual focal length lens system
WO2014133604A1 *Nov 8, 2013Sep 4, 2014Raytheon CompanyAfocal telescope for back-scanned imagery
Classifications
U.S. Classification359/722, 359/637, 359/618, 359/634, 359/355
International ClassificationG02B13/14, G02B27/12, G02B13/00, G02B27/10, G02B27/14
Cooperative ClassificationG02B17/0896, G02B27/1066, G02B13/14
European ClassificationG02B27/10K, G02B17/08Z, G02B13/14
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 23, 2014REMIMaintenance fee reminder mailed
Apr 12, 2010FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
May 27, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION, MARYLAND
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:AMON, MAX;LEBLANC, RICHARD;BRADLEY, GEORGE A.;REEL/FRAME:015399/0210;SIGNING DATES FROM 20040308 TO 20040526